Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~Helen Keller
Bali. It was the first stop on my journey. I have been excited to go to Bali for so long. My visions of Bali were like the scenes from the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I pictured myself riding a bike, much like Julia Roberts did in the movie, along the roads by the rice fields, staying in a beautiful villa that is outdoors, and finding an amazingly handsome man to have a love affair with. What I have come to find in my 52 years of living is that when we are looking forward to something, we create scenarios in our heads of what we think the experience will be like. If we replay that said scenario in our head enough times, it becomes our reality. We do this with relationships, jobs, where we want to live, and almost every experience that has yet to exist in our future. This practice, which is a very natural occurrence for most people, has one drawback. It keeps us from appreciating the actual experience because we are comparing it to the made-up experience we created in our head. My actual experience in Bali was somewhat different than my vision…
It all started with checking into my beautiful outdoor villa in Ubud. This is where I was supposed to stay for a month and live in bliss. It was when the owner of the villa dropped me off in a parking lot and his wife was waiting to take me to the villa on a scooter (notice I did not say bike like I had in my vision!) that I realized my vision may have been a tad bit off. After the uphill mile-and-a-half ride from hell to my villa, I began to settle in.
Now, if you have never stayed in an outdoor villa, it is NOT like what you see on social media (unless you are staying in a 5-star resort).
When it rains, you get wet…along with everything else that is outside. You even cook outside… with the snails, ants, frogs, and geckos. I did sleep indoors (in a yurt) on a beautiful bed with a mosquito net and had a companion…but it wasn’t the amazingly handsome man I imagined. It was Gary the gecko (see the picture of Gary at the top of the blog).
Gary was the gecko who lived in my closet. He was unlike other men I have befriended in that he was very vocal and had a lot to say. He seemed to be most talkative at 3:00 in the morning when Rodney the rooster (the rooster in the villa next door) also began crowing very loudly. (Side note…since I encountered so many “creatures” during my stay in Ubud, I decided to name them all since we became so “close.”) Gary hid behind my t-shirts in the closet. He thought I could not see him (much like a small child who does not understand that when they cover their eyes to play peek a boo you can still see them) when I opened the closet door because he was only half hiding behind my shirts with his long tail sticking out. He never left. He was a bit sensitive and became upset and very vocal if I did not talk to him when I opened the closet to get my clothes, which he often pooped on.
Although I grew fond of Gary, the final straw for me was the massive thunderstorm that sent me flying under my covers like a 5-year-old little girl, with loud thunder and lightning that I swear touched down right next to my bed. I stayed a total of 6-days in Ubud and then threw in the towel. I said my good-byes to Gary the gecko, Rodney the rooster, Sammy the snail, Freda the frog (who liked to sleep in my only frying pan in the kitchen), and the many ants that paraded on my kitchen counter and headed to a new place in Seminyak which was all indoors…or so I thought.
My place in Seminyak was a combo of a hotel and an apartment. There was just one problem. When I checked in, the place looked nothing like the picture on the website. I came to find out the place had flooded the day before and they had no other rooms to put me in. At this point, I was sure that the water from all the storms in Ubud were chasing me! Five days later, I moved to a different room in the same hotel. Not great, but better. At this point, I was counting down the days until I left Bali.
I did some amazing things in Bali and some parts were very beautiful. But with all the traveling I have done over the years, I have come to find that there are some places we just do not jive with. Bali was one of those places for me. And believe me, I tried. I ate at some great restaurants, I saw a Balinese shaman, I visited beautiful islands (like Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan), I sat on a wooden swing and swung over the rice fields in Ubud, I drank Kopi Luwak, I visited the Garuda Visnu Kencana statue, and I took part in a beautiful ceremony with water fountains at Tirta Empul. These experiences were wonderful but no matter what I did, I still had an unsettled feeling inside. I could not “nest” and settle into Bali like I have in other places.
Sometimes we think our feelings have to do with our surroundings, which at times, they do. But other times we blame our surroundings (or people in those surroundings) for our feelings. I was thousands of miles away from where I called home and this time, I had no place to run to and no one to blame. I had no apartment anymore because all my things were sitting in storage. I was forced to sit in Bali and face how I was feeling without running for comfort and cover.
Sometimes, we need to be taken out of our ordinary in order to see the extraordinary about ourselves and our life. I began to really become present where I was. Not wishing I was someplace else or wishing it was different. I radically accepted my present circumstances. What is interesting about radically accepting “what is” is that miracles occur when we do this. My bum knee began to not hurt anymore, friends began texting me to check in and see how I was doing and they all offered me encouraging words that helped keep me going, and time seemed to move a little quicker.
I can’t say that I will ever go back to Bali but what I will say is that I am grateful for the gecko in the closet, the thunderstorms, the harassing taxi drivers, the so-so hotel room, and the scooter rides from hell. The uncomfortableness of all these things helped me find the place inside me where I can be comfortable no matter what my external circumstances may be. Not everything in life can always be perfect but the secret to life is that we can make any situation perfect by shifting our mindset. Perception is reality and my “reality” of Bali now is a place of wonder, lessons, water, and let’s not forget….geckos!
Terima Kasih Bali!